International Legal News
Weekly update: 5 July 2021 – 11 July 2021
The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 5 July 2021 to 11 July 2021.
The Guernica Group will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak for consideration.
Italy – 5 July 2021
Prosecutors in Sicily have launched an investigation against the Libyan coastguard after footage emerged appearing to show officials firing on a boat of migrant families in the Mediterranean Sea. On 30 June, rescue workers from the German organisation Sea-Watch recorded the Libyan coastguard patrol vessel coming dangerously close to the small wooden boat and apparently firing shots in an attempt to force the 64 people onboard back to Libya. On Friday, after receiving a complaint from Sea-Watch, which contained footage and photos of the incident, prosecutors in Agrigento decided to investigate the Libyan officials for “attempted shipwreck” and will look at whether the incident put the lives of the migrants in danger. It is the first time a European country has launched an investigation against the Libyan coastguard, who have faced numerous accusations of alleged collusion with people smugglers and of mistreating asylum seekers.
United Kingdom (UK) – 5 July 2021
Ministers are to reveal proposals for a suite of new laws paving the way for offshore centres for asylum seekers and criminal charges for migrants “knowingly” arriving in the UK without permission. The nationality and borders bill, formerly known as the sovereign borders bill, has been described by the Home Office as containing “the most radical changes to the broken asylum system in decades” making it harder for those who enter illegally to stay in the UK. But campaigners say the new laws could see thousands of refugees turned away and vulnerable migrants criminalised for seeking a better life.
Africa – 5 July 2021
About 150 students are missing after armed men raided a boarding school in Nigeria's Kaduna state. The attack on the Bethel Baptist High School is the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to armed bandits seeking ransom payments. Dozens of distraught parents gathered at the school compound, some weeping and crying out, standing in groups awaiting news. Discarded sandals lay strewn nearby. Dormitories containing metal bunk beds and cupboards were deserted.
Belarus – 5 July 2021
The independent expert appointed to monitor the country stated that Belarus has witnessed an unprecedented human rights crisis over the past year, calling on authorities to immediately end their policy of repression and fully respect the legitimate aspirations of their people. In her annual report to the Human Rights Council, Anaïs Marin said she had received reports of massive police violence used against protesters - since last August’s disputed presidential election brought millions onto the streets to contest the result - cases of enforced disappearance, allegations of torture and ill-treatment and the continuous intimidation and harassment of civil society actors.
Israel – 6 July 2021
Israel's parliament has failed to pass an extension to a controversial law barring Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or Gaza who marry Israelis from being granted citizenship rights. After a debate that lasted through the night, the vote was tied 59 to 59. It was the first big defeat for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government since it took office last month. Thousands of Palestinians previously unable to claim citizenship rights may now be able to do so, although the interior minister will still have the power to reject applications on a case-by-case basis.
Russia / Myanmar – 6 July 2021
Russia strongly supports the Southeast Asian diplomatic effort to end the crisis in Myanmar and has conveyed similar messages to the country’s military leadership. The five-point consensus agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc should be the basis by which the situation can be resolved. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said that “in our contacts with Myanmar leaders, military leaders, we promote the position of ASEAN which should be in our view, considered as a basis for resolving this crisis and bring the situation back to normalcy”.
United Nations (UN) – 7 July 2021
The UN said that perpetrators behind the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse must be brought to justice. President Moïse, 53, was shot dead in an overnight attack in his private residence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. His wife, Martine, was also injured and is receiving treatment, according to media reports. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has extended his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Haiti, and to the family of the late President. The UN will continue to stand with the Government and the people of Haiti.
Georgia – 8 July 2021
In the case of Tkhelidze v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life/investigation) taken in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the ECHR. The case concerned the Georgian authorities’ failure to protect the applicant’s daughter from domestic violence and to conduct an effective investigation into the matter. The Court found that the police had to have been aware that the applicant’s daughter had been in danger. Despite the various protective measures that they could have implemented, they had failed to prevent gender-based violence against her, which culminated in her death. The Court found that the police inaction could be considered a systemic failure. There was a pressing need to conduct a meaningful inquiry into the possibility that gender-based discrimination and bias had been behind the police’s lack of action.
Croatia / Monaco – 8 July 2021
Jonathan Taylor, an oil industry whistleblower, who has been trapped in Croatia amid extradition proceedings has said he is free to return home. He spent nine years working in Monaco for SBM Offshore, a Dutch multinational oil and natural gas company. In 2012, he blew the whistle on corrupt practices at the firm: providing evidence about bribes being offered to government officials in return for lucrative contracts. He said Croatia's justice minister had overturned a decision to extradite him. The country's Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, said in a statement: "After carefully considering all relevant circumstances of the case, Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica rendered a decision not to grant extradition of Jonathan Taylor to the Principality of Monaco." The Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) said: "We now call on Monaco to drop any further proceedings against Jonathan Taylor and to focus on the actions of SBM Offshore as a proper target for their investigations”.
Latin America – 9 July 2021
The police stated that a group of 28 foreign mercenaries, including retired Colombian soldiers, assassinated Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse earlier this week. After a gun battle in the capital Port-au-Prince, 17 were detained, some at the house they were using, others after entering Taiwan's diplomatic compound. Three suspects were killed by police and eight are still being sought. Police said the hit squad included mainly Colombians, along with two Haitian-Americans. Found in the suspects' possession were firearms, sets of US dollar bills, the president's personal chequebook and the server that held surveillance camera footage from his home.